My pain, it is impossible to measure. My pain is different to anyone else’s or is it, no one can answer this. I am going to talk here about my pain, what caused it and where it led my mind to go. If you can identify with my story, I hope you know that you are not alone. If you know someone that you may think is in a similar pain as me, rest assured there is help out there.
Did I wake up one morning with a blinding pain? NO!! My pain was more cunning and sneaky than that, my pain grew steadily for more than 30 years. My pain got me to do things that were against every moral fibre in my body for what I see now as short term relief, which in the long term made my pain excruciating. So unbearable, that long term relief was very desirable which lead to attempts to finish it all. Was I suffering from cancer or some other deadly disease, no not in the normal acceptable form of the meaning? Yes, in the life threatening side of things. Yes, I am an addict, an addiction that has created more pain in my life and the lives of the people I love, it truly is unmeasurable. We hear people talk about rock bottom, I don’t know is there such a thing, but looking back my rock bottom was my wish to be dead. Pain brought ropes, tablets and knifes as a means of the final painkiller in to life.
Was this pain always there? I can’t say for sure, but I always felt different, obscure and odd. I was a bed wetter to the age of 11 or 12 so this fed in to these thoughts, as I always felt I smelled, I mention this because since getting into recovery it is very common amongst addicts. I took my first drink at a very young age, but I got drunk for the first time at 12 and never stopped for a long time. Gambling entered my life when I did the football pools at 14 and this truly was my nirvana, this was my main pain relief for many years to come (16 years when I take the time to do the maths). Shop lifting is also part of my story, at a time for survival purposes, at others it was another addiction and pain relief. I now can say my pain was made up of many different components (fear, body image, shame, lost, failure, sadness, loneliness and many more) all I know is I couldn’t cope with life, the world was too much for me. So, I acted out against the world and was saying f**k you to it. My life was a steaming pile of shite and then my actions took me to prison.
I ended up in prison in 2014 at the age of 32, not a bean in my pocket, just the crappy cloths I was wearing (I mean truly crappy, the prisons dacs were an upgrade). The first night I spent locked in a cell in by myself on committal wing, Jesus Christ!! I prayed that night. I mean the noises was frightening, the jingle jangle of the guards keys, the bang of the cell door, the constant chatter on the landings and the peephole opening, with unknown people looking in. Pissing in a pot and sleeping on a bed with more lumps than a bad bowl of porridge. With the one question running through my sick mind, why was I not brave enough to kill myself? Prison was hard, but I slowly realised it was a better life than I was leading as a free man. How sad is that? I got a good routine in prison, I had a job I used to have get up early for and keep me out of the cell all day. I became healthy in body and my mind was quieter, which led me to be able to say yes to the help I was offered and when you accept the help there is a shit load available. I accepted the counselling on offer, where I really started to learn about myself and wow there was another way of relieving my pain, amazing and profound really, the answer was talking all along. If I didn’t accept the counselling, I would never have heard about Sophia Housing, who provided me with a flat on release which was and still is a huge part of my recovery. I’m actually getting emotional here writing, there is so many people that have help, such great people. None more than Cork Alliance, how can I sum up how important the service is to me, they were and still are my salvation.
I was asked one day did I want to see someone from Cork Alliance, my instant reaction was who! Not knowing what they were I said YES (I always say there is someone out there guiding me. I was put into the smallest and hottest room I ever could imagine, the sweat was hopping off me (heat and anxiety) in walks Vicky and have no idea what I was saying that day, all I know is that lady has an ability to get me talking, I met Vicky mostly every week for about 6 months before my release.
When I got out I had a great foundation, a place of my own to live, loads of services to talk to and it still took me nearly 2 weeks to go into the Cork Alliances offices. It took me that time (which seem ridiculous now) to ring the door, be buzzed in and climb those 20 steps to the offices. The first I went in, I met Sheila for the first time and instantly felt comfortable. For my first 6 months out I reckon I went in there up to 10 times a week, I even washed my clothes there for god sake.
Today, that fore mentioned pain is released from me with a combination of many different things, from AA to GA, Focus Ireland, Sophia Housing and many more (sorry for leaving anyone out). Cork Alliance is one of the biggest and most consistent parts of my recovery. It is like a functional family for me and when some of my old pain raises its ugly head I can go in and not only does it get relieved of my pain, I also get full of hope of the future. Today I am back in college at the age of 36, with a spring and pride in my step. I’m living life, I have more gratitude than you can imagine and I am annoyingly positive.
I want to take this opportunity to thank all my friends in Cork Alliance Sheila (Boss), Emma, Noirin, Jane, Gillian, Alan and Phillipe. Most importantly I want to thank Vicky for her continued guidance on every issue I still have in life (and for some of more off topic conversations, I’m sure we will solve some of the world’s bigger issues as well!). Thanks to Cork Alliance for helping me realise who I am and more importantly that is okay to be me. For today, life is good.